Mr. October Stirs Things Up In New Documentary | Despite Being A Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson Still Feels Like an Outsider
As a player there was never a stage too big for Hall of Fame MLBbro Reginald Martinez Jackson. An outspoken superstar of the 1970s and early 80s, Jackson once referred to himself as “the straw who stirs the drink” while winning five world championships and two World Series MVP awards with the Oakland A’s and the New York Yankees respectively.
His supreme confidence, that was often mistaken for arrogance, takes a backseat to humility and anger at times when he finally shares the backstory to his legendary Hall of Fame career.
In the new Amazon Prime documentary “Reggie” Jackson is statesmanly candid and reverential as he shares memories of a lifetime in baseball that began in the shadows of Jim Crow America despite not being totally comfortable on his platform.
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Jackson’s impact on the baseball field was incomparable. A supremely confident five-tool athlete with a million-dollar smile, chiseled physique and a fire reflective of his last name and a swag reflective of his first. He is the historic face of the Oakland A’s and the driving force behind several championship squads, eventually taking a bite out of the big city and becoming a legend with the New York Yankees in his rise to the game’s historic hierarchy.
Reggie Jackson Wants To Be an Owner
However, Reggie’s post career afterlife in the game hasn’t been as fulfilling as it was when he played because of his denial of access to ownership.
“The time was right to tell the story if I ever was going to,” said Jackson at the outset. “This is my story the way I see it”.
Jackson sees baseball today through a social filter which allows him to paint a picture of his career through a Black player’s struggle, that for many continue these days. While he admits to being “uncomfortable” publicly sharing his baseball journey, Jackson ponders whether he had “done” enough during the civil rights movement in America away from the ballpark.
“Baseball has been backwards for a long time,” Jackson says. “On the field I was in control.”
Pressure never phased Jackson on the field and his confidence was unshakeable. He shares the compelling anecdotes of his minor league time in Birmingham where he couldn’t find housing, so he temporarily stayed with Oakland A’s teammates Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers, and Dave Duncan when they got to the minors.
They were part of the A’s three consecutive World Series titles from 1972 through 1974.
Part of the anger that drove him was witnessing the civil unrest in Alabama he was subjected to while in the minors. The absence of dignity for Black Americans added to the chip on his shoulders when he took the field and with contract negotiations. That edge gave him the drive to challenge the system for healthy compensation which forced Jackson to leave the Bay Area.
Jackson recalls the story of playing for renegade owner Charles Finley with the A’s who is historically noted for breaking up the dynasty by not wanting to pay players after winning championships.
He recounts how after leading the AL in home runs in 1974 that Finley cut his salary by $2,500 because he also led the league in strikeouts. He was traded to Baltimore before signing with the Yankees in 1976.
“[Finley] became problematic when he didn’t want to pay for success,” Jackson recalls.
Reggie pulled no punches on his awkward relationship with his Yankee manager BIlly Martin.
He appears sublime regarding his time in the Bronx because the two personalities were like oil and water.
“My worst time in baseball was playing for Billy Martin,” Jackson recalls. “I didn’t come to New York to be a star. I was already a star when I got there.”
The resounding sentiment from Jackson is dignity throughout the two-hour production. Jackson wanted the ultimate respect from the game and was shunned by the owners twice after he pulled together groups that were trying to buy the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers.
The southern California investment group included Silicon Valley billionaires Paul Allen and Bill Gates. That led to his seemingly inevitable conclusion that despite being a Hall of Fame player, he is still an outsider.
“Sometimes I feel like a hood ornament,” Jackson says. “They don’t want me under the hood”.